The main purpose of a forensic psychological and risk assessment report is to provide the parole board with an expert analysis of the clients’ or offenders’ perspectives regarding their stability and possible hazards for the society in case of their release. The current analysis demonstrates that the evaluated report is precise, clear, and written in a proper language without utilizing any expert-specific wording, thus making it understandable for the public. The paper also suggests applying two additional treatments for a more holistic approach to addressing the offender’s case. These measures relate to the relapse prevention and treatment plans that are crucial for Mr. Smith, especially taking into account the history of client’s chronic alcohol and drug abuse. Moreover, possible issues with the successful client’s reintegration into the society are considered because of that he may lack the necessary capabilities and skills required for the current competitive labor market.
Key words: forensic psychology, risk assessment, report, offender, recommended treatment.
The current paper analyzes the forensic psychological and risk assessment report. The need for the evaluation stems from the requirement of equipping the parole board with a professional appraisal of Mr. Smith’s situation in light of the overall parole suitability and the hazards to the community in case of his release from the custody. The report will define any improvements or alterations noticed in Mr. Smith’s conduct or mental condition. It is also important to mention that Mr. Smith himself comprehends the requirement of answering questions.
Being a forensic mental health professional representing the Parole Outpatient Clinic requires evaluating the report and presenting the outcomes of the evaluation based on the best available practices, procedures, and consultations in the sphere of forensic psychology and risk assessment. The analysis and evaluation, which has to be presented to the parole board, can be viewed as standardized while meeting all professional norms and standards (Masson, 2016). The facts demonstrate that the individual discussed in the report has a substantial and lasting criminal history, though he demonstrates remorse and has solid positive plans for the future. For instance, Mr. Smith adheres to all of the requirements of the set treatment programs. In addition, he does not reveal any signs or features of negative institutional conduct.
The Role and Purpose
The main purpose for conducting the report is the presentation of the facts and professional opinions to the parole board concerning Mr. Smith’s suitability to parole and the level of the hazard of re-offense to the community. Therefore, this document allows analyzing all the evidence and proofs of Mr. Smith’s imprisonment time while reviewing the improvements. The current report also helps in assessing the client’s current condition enabling the board with an opportunity to decide whether the client is ready to be released back into society or not. The report reveals both negative and positive explanations of the client’s behavior by the forensic psychologist that are pertinent to the parole application. The report demonstrates that the client has been informed about the usage of the data collected via the parole panel interviews and examinations. This information will be valuable for formulating the well-reasoned recommendations concerning his release suitability.
The original psychological evaluation and risk assessment report is used for influencing and updating the assessment of the client’s conduct, his general mental health conditions, and, at the same time, evaluation of possible hazards in case of his release into the society. Based on the recommendations from the current evaluations, the client has successfully accomplished all parole criteria. Thus, the report defines that the release is recommended.
Quality and Readability
The report also presents the unstructured clinical judgments and evaluations written in a clear manner using common vocabulary and omitting the usage of professional jargons. In addition, the number of field-specific terms appearing in the report is limited, while those that appear are understandable or explained, presupposing that the wide public can clearly comprehend the information. According to White, Day, and Hackett (2008), all psychological or forensic psychology reports are supposed to be clearly and precisely comprehensible to an average individual. Therefore, the report adheres to the norms and standards of psychological report writing, which means that the presented facts and sentences are short and precise.
The report samples introduced by Melton, Petrila, Poythress, and Slobogin (2007) are taken as examples for the analysis of the current forensic report. Therefore, based on other reports, it can be concluded that the current one can be characterized as fragmented or merely providing highly restricted assessment of validity. Primarily, there is no separate section to address the referral question. Moreover, the explanation of the hazard of re-offense is vague as the evaluation of the hazard does not provide precise time and is not evaluated within a structured or unstructured setting. The conditions of the re-offense have to be precisely outlined with regard to violence, assault, and child or spouse abuse among other manifestations. It is important to understand whether there is a requirement to address criminal recidivism or whether the hazard of re-offense is directly linked to a mental illness. Thus, in case when the criminal recidivism is addressed, the report should provide the appropriate data concerning client’s previous criminal history while the current report lacks this discussion.
The report does not present sufficient information about the reliability of the assessment tool. In terms of other evaluative features, the document clearly and professionally covers all necessary questions according to the forensic psychology norms and guidelines. The report starts with providing the client’s name, date of birth, address, telephone number, the agency by which he was referred, the name of the examiner, and the informed consent. The report includes the summarized justification for the evaluation procedure and application of the assessment methods. It also listed the client’s behavioral observations and present mental status together with general client’s psychological symptoms. Finally, it addresses the present DSM diagnostic impression, the risk assessment, and provides the necessary treatment recommendations.
In-Depth Psychological Evaluation
The report should have included both psychological evaluation and risk assessment. In the introduction to the report, Dr. Doe stated that both elements would be included, but the only reference to the psychological evaluation was the current mental status of the client.
In fact, the psychological evaluation ought to incorporate at least the following components:
- The criminal history and offense analysis
- Prior and current mental health functioning
- Substance abuse history
- Capability to function independently
- Educational and employment background
- Family and marital history
This section of the report should discuss the sources of information that Dr. Doe used in the psychological evaluation and risk assessment of Mr. Smith. Although Dr. Doe indicated that an interview was performed on October 1, 2011, its duration has not been stated. Moreover, the original sources of Mr. Smith’s legal records, medical records, and prior evaluations were not specified in the report.
Furthermore, no other collateral sources of information were mentioned in the report, such as risk assessment and/or psychological testing performed by Dr. Doe. Collateral information sources include presentence investigations and reports, police reports, witness statements for prior and current offenses, and behavior reports, which are highly important for comprehensive evaluation of the client’s condition. Dr. Doe mentioned the programs and Mr. Smith’s achievements in their context, but he did not present them in detail, which makes the claims unverifiable.
Notification of Rights
On a similar note, the report does not specify the information that Mr. Smith provided with a written informed consent. In fact, the client was only verbally notified that the interview was non-confidential and might be included in the evaluation. Furthermore, the report does not indicate that the role of Dr. Doe was appropriately explained to the client. This factor is critical, as the client should understand that the main role of Dr. Doe was limited to assessment and evaluation, which means that no treatments or therapies would be offered.
Mental Status Evaluation
Despite the fact that Dr. Doe stated that a psychological evaluation would be executed, the report demonstrates merely a short paragraph dedicated to the client’s current mental status. The report actually included only self-assessment/insight section, but the statements, which are included in the report, belong to the client and can be viewed as clearly self-serving.
On the other hand, the mental status evaluation should comprise of at least eight elements:
- Behavior and appearance
- Thought content and process
- Mental capabilities
- Intellectual functioning
- Sensory perceptions
- Attitude towards the interview
With regard to the psychological testing, there are no indications that it was executed as a way to approach any mental health problems. The report provides short annotation hinting merely to a plausible diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, but it cannot be obviously stated due to the insufficiency of the reported data. The majority of Dr. Doe’s opinions are grounded on the evaluations conducted previously, which are presented in a separate section.
Evaluation of Future Risk
Dr. Doe used two assessment tools to evaluate the client’s hazard of re-offense, including the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) and the Historical Clinical Risk-20 (HCR-20). Both of them are reasonable, but the fact that the report does not clearly define the referral question of the tests measurements, together with the lack of the analysis and conclusion of each of the assessments, make the evaluation less valid. Moreover, the recommendations presented in the report are not distinctly aligned with the body and substance of the report. On the one hand, it is mentioned that the client might have utilized substances to deal with depressive symptoms, though the report does not mention the substance (not including alcohol) abuse.
The additional measures concern evidence-based practice, which regards the principles surrounding the “rehabilitation and treatment programs that have been proven effective in reducing recidivism” (Weiner & Otto, 2014, p. 21).
The first psychological assessment/measure, which has to be utilized to obtain the additional relevant information for the report stands for the Level of Service/Risk, Need, Responsivity (LS/RNR). This is the most influential model for the assessment and medication of offenders that allows evaluating and rehabilitating criminals with regard to three major principles. The first one, standing for the risk principle, states that criminal behavior might be easily predicted, while the medication has to concentrate on greater hazard offenders. The second one, or the need principle, emphasizes the significance of the criminogenic requirements in the design and provision of medication. In case when these requirements are properly defined, it will help lowering the likelihood of criminal behavior. Appealing to the non-criminogenic requirements might offer some benefits to the offender, but as these requirements are not connected to the probability of criminal behavior, it will not lower the possibility of recidivism. The last one, the responsivity principle, outlines how the medication has to be administered. According to this principle, efficient interventions are cognitive-behavioral and emphasize on the positive strengthening. They are “specific to the gender, culture, learning style and stage of change of the offender and requires continuous monitoring and evaluation of both program operations and offender outcomes” (Weiner & Otto, 2014, p. 54).
The second measure stands for the level of service/case management inventory (LS/CMI). Following the above-mentioned Risk-Need-Responsivity model of offender rehabilitation, the LS/CMI evaluates the hazard factors, which are empirically associated with recidivism. It also estimates offender strengths and supervision speculations (Weiner & Otto, 2014). As a completely operating case management tool, this measure produces precise and dependable evaluations of recidivism risks across genders, ethnicities, and countries. . Its application incorporates the important tools necessary for the treatment planning.
The third measure stands for Addiction Severity Index (ASI). This is a semi-structured addiction assessment tool in a form of an interview, used for substance abuse assessment and treatment planning (Weiner & Otto, 2014). Its purpose is to collect the valuable data about the areas of a client’s life, which might contribute to their substance-abuse issues.
Cultural Sensitivity and Aspects of Diversity
Dr. Doe outlined the client as a “37-year-old, married, Hispanic, male”. Thus, the report does not take into account the distinct ethnic specificities within the Hispanic racial group, such as those of individuals of Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Mexican origin. Therefore, Dr. Doe should have paid attention to the cultural background of Mr. Smith to avoid assumptions in this regard and ensure a comprehensive approach to his treatment and rehabilitation. Regardless of the fact that clinical professional judgment and hypotheses must be sustained, it is highly important for a specialist to shift the cultural lens in order to observe the world from the examinee’s viewpoint to interpret their behavior appropriately. This feature would have allowed making the report more culturally sensitive.
The analysis of the current report suggests that it would be better to omit stating what the client needs concerning medication. Instead, it would be better to suggest what are the most appropriate treatments and medications from the clinical perspective (Chadda, 2013). This specification is highly important because any antidepressant treatment and medication cannot be viewed as the easiest way of dealing with the problem or the easiest choice to be made by the client. This is the main reason why the referral should be made after explaining the basics to the client himself. Further, this aspect will require the explanation of the advantages of the psychotropic medications in terms of the depression treatment. In addition, it would be necessary to set a structured relapse prevention plan in place, especially taking into account client’s prolonged history of alcohol and drug abuse (Weiner & Otto, 2014). This option will require informing the client about the essence and structure of the plan, as well as the reasons why its implementation is advisable as an outpatient intervention that lasts between 8 and 12 sessions (Weiner & Otto, 2014). The solution should be presented as aftercare of the inpatient medication and treatment. Apart from that, it is important to incorporate the transitional programming into the overall treatment plan. This factor is essential as the program is specifically created and designed in order to help offenders to reintegrate into society through the provision of the necessary skills required for the current competitive labor market (Masson, 2016). The facts demonstrate that providing reasonable treatment and prevention plans appears to be the key for the overall reduction of recidivism. It has been proved that mental health treatment is the major agent in diminishing the overall recidivism rate, while the increase of this rate appears due to the obvious shortage of treatment and medication (Chadda, 2013). The evidence taken from the reports presented by the studies by the Ministry of Justice (2016) and Prison Reform Trust (2016) demonstrate that 70% of prisoners suffer from one of several mental health conditions. In fact, 25% of incarcerated females and 15% of males reported symptoms indicative of psychosis. This is the main reason why it is recommended to make use of innovative treatments, which do not require such severe medication (Chadda, 2013). On the contrary, the clients who suffer from major clinical depression might obtain solid advantages through engagement in safe aerobic exercising, meditation, and yoga, combined with their setting in positive interplay (Chadda, 2013). In terms of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, the report should follow the appropriate explanation of the treatment plan selection. It will also require making a specific follow-up interim together with weekly follow up conducted either through the phone control or via face-to-face meetings (Weiner & Otto, 2014). In addition, in order to ensure that the follow-ups on medications and treatment are effective, it would be necessary to address all possible reported medication side effects (Weiner & Otto, 2014). In case of successful passing of this stage, the meetings for monitoring the progress can be performed monthly.
The paper provided the analysis and evaluation of the forensic psychological and risk assessment report that focused on the paroled offender. The main purpose of the report was the estimation of whether the client can be released back into society under the parole conditions. The report was clear and precise and incorporated all the information required by the appropriate norms and standards. Nevertheless, the report lacks validity. The analysis paid specific attention to this problem. Based on the identified shortcomings, the recommendations suggest implementing two additional highly necessary measures for more holistic assessment of the client’s condition to facilitate his successful reintegrating into the society.